Dennis Emerson

Amherstburg Stars juvenile team captures OMHA title

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Sunday was “Red Hat Day” at the Libro Centre for the Amherstburg Stars juvenile team.

The Stars defeated King Rebellion 3-2 for the second straight day to win the six-point OMHA final series six points to two. By winning the OMHA championship, the Stars got to wear the symbolic red baseball caps that go along with it.

The Stars won 3-2 Saturday night after building a 3-0 lead after two periods on goals by Garret Blunt, Jack Hubbell and Joe Goulawski. In Sunday’s game, they led 2-0 in the second period and 3-1 midway through the third only to have King Rebellion shave the lead to one goal each time but the Stars hung on to win that game and the OMHA title.

Brandon Fahringer scored twice for Amherstburg in Sunday’s game with Jake Topliffe adding the other goal.

The Amherstburg Stars juvenile team celebrate after winning the OMHA title Sunday afternoon at the Libro Centre. The Stars defeated King Rebellion 3-2 Sunday and also won by that same score Saturday night. Amherstburg won the series six points to two.

“It feels awesome,” said head coach Dennis Emerson. “We hope to build on this next year.”
Emerson said it was only the second year for the relaunched juvenile program, with the Stars having made it to the OMHA semi-final last year. He said many players joined this year with the goal being an OMHA title.

“This was our goal right from the beginning,” said Emerson.

Emerson credited a strong midget program for the quick success of the juvenile team. He said they weren’t phased by losing the first game of the series to King Rebellion last weekend, saying they had “road legs” and had a couple of bounces go against them. Noting they lost the first game in other series, Emerson said he knew they could battle back.

Blunt, the team’s captain, agreed as he pointed out they came back to win series against Erie North Shore and Belle River after losing the first game.

“It was a familiar spot, having to win three straight,” he said.

Blunt was one of the happy Stars’ players taking a turn with the trophy on the ice.

“It feels good,” he said. “I knew we could do it. It was a little closer than we wanted but we did it.”

Captains with the Amherstburg Stars juvenile team accept the OMHA championship trophy March 25 at the Libro Centre following their 3-2 win over King Rebellion.

It was the team’s goal from the start of the year, Blunt agreed.

“We had the right group of guys,” he said.

Goalie Chris Mitre said winning the OMHA title was “unbelievable for sure” and noted they bounced back after a tough start to the season. Mitre said “the boys started rolling” and when they began to find their game, he knew they would be tough to beat.

“We battled through and we did it,” said Mitre.

The Stars will now advance to the OHF juvenile championship tournament, to be held in early April. The Quinte West Minor Hockey Association will be the hosts.

Stars, Rebellion trade wins in the opening weekend of the OMHA Finals

 

Special to the RTT

 

The last team left in minor hockey pressing for an OMHA Championship was in action again this weekend as the Amherstburg Juvenile Stars faced off against the King Rebellion in Games 1 and 2 of the OMHA Finals.

Game 1 went Saturday afternoon and saw an injury-riddled Stars team come out and weather the storm for the first 30 minutes of the game but it was the Rebellion who opened the scoring at the 6:25 minute mark of the second period.  The Stars got on the board and tied the game at the 2:08 mark of the second period on the strength of an Ernie Godden Jr. goal but the tie was short lived and the Stars could not hold off a surging Rebellion offense who jumped back in to the lead just a short 27 seconds later.

The Stars would gain some confidence heading into the last frame as Brandon Fahringer tied the game at two late in the second period.  That, however, was the most the Stars offense would be able to muster on this day.

Giving up two goals in the third period, the Stars dropped the opener 4-2. Stars goaltender Jack Langlois had a great performance in net but coach Dennis Emerson thought the team left a little to be desired.

“I thought we came out fast and matched King’s intensity but we just couldn’t get that full game effort,” said Emerson. “I don’t think we did a great job of making things easier on Jack in net.”

When asked if the Stars third period lapse is concerning, Emerson rejected the notion.

“These players know exactly what it takes to win a Red Hat (OMHA Championship), we have several players who already have one; I know they’ll come out flying tomorrow and I’m certain you will see a different result.”

Some St. Patrick’s day “luck of the Irish” must have fallen on the side of the Stars as it seemed coach Emerson’s proclamation after game one was coming true in Game 2.

After coming out of the penalty box Stars’ forward Joe Goulawski opened the scoring for Amherstburg at the 5:24 mark of the first period, leaving no doubt on his breakaway.  Goulawski would keep the Stars offense going early in the second period pushing the Stars to a 2-0 lead at the 10:45 mark.

With a resilient effort and top notch special teams, the Stars’ Mike Lenson added the back-breaking goal with only 2:32 left in the third period to shut out the Rebellion 3-0 in Game 2 of the OMHA Finals. Chris Mitre picked up the win in net and was a key contributor to the overall team success.

“Chris was great in net,” said a smiling Coach Emerson. “Our special teams, our goaltending, it was all great. The boys really showed a lot of character in today’s game.”

In a game that saw the Stars penalized almost three times as much as the home team, the special teams really were the difference maker.

“We were up 2-0 early in the third on the PK and we had guys diving in front of shots and working extra hard on the back check. We knew on the bench that if we could press to make it 3-0 and not give them any hope, we could pull this off,” said Stars forward Garret Blunt. “I really like the momentum we built up this weekend heading into next weekend at home.”

The Stars are back in action this weekend at the Libro Centre hosting the same Rebellion team on Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. There is no charge to get into the games. Come support your local Juvenile Stars on their quest for the Red Hat.

 

Amherstburg Stars juvenile team advance to OMHA finals

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Stars juvenile hockey team is one step closer to a provincial title.

The Stars advanced to the OMHA finals thanks to a 2-1 victory over the Woolwich Wildcats Friday night at the Libro Centre. The win meant the Stars captured the OMHA semi-final series six points to none as Amherstburg won twice in Woolwich the previous weekend.

The Amherstburg Stars juvenile team celebrates after their 2-1 over the Woolwich Wildcats March 9 at the Libro Centre. Amherstburg wo the series six points to none and advanced to the OMHA finals.

After Mathieu Fife opened the scoring for Woolwich early in the first period, the Stars rallied to tie the game on a goal by Garret Blunt later in the period. The teams played a scoreless second period before Jack Hubbell’s powerplay goal midway through the third period put the Stars ahead to stay.

“We feel great about it,” said Stars head coach Dennis Emerson. “We’re excited.”

Emerson said the Stars have been playing well for a few months now.

“We’ve been on a roll since Christmas,” he said. “The kids are all buying in to what we’re trying to do. We’re playing as a team.”

Blunt said the team is happy to make the finals and have no preference as to who they play.

“We’ll take on anyone,” he said.

Amherstburg’s Jake Topliffe (5) tries a wraparound on Woolwich goalie Connor Duench during the third period of last Friday night’s OMHA semi-final game at the Libro Centre. Amherstburg won 2-1.

The juvenile Stars is still a relatively young program in Amherstburg and Blunt said they are putting it on the map quickly. Blunt noted juvenile-aged players no longer have to travel to Harrow to continue their hockey careers.

“It feels really good,” he said, about advancing to the OMHA finals. “It shows the juvenile team means business in Amherstburg.”

Blunt said they wanted to “exploit” the Woolwich goalie and get shots low, look for rebounds “and that’s what we did.”

“It’s good to be playing here,” he added. “It wasn’t like that a couple of years ago. It’s good to have a team.”

Stars’ juvenile team two points away from OMHA final berth

 

The Amherstburg Juvenile Stars travelled up the 401 this past weekend to kick off their OMHA Semi-Final series against the Woolwich Wildcats.  The Stars came out flying in game one of the series Saturday afternoon winning the opener 4-1.  Stars goals were scored by Jack Hubbell, Brandon Farhringer, Ernie Godden Jr. and Joe Goulawski.

The game was a busy one for Stars trainer Chad Mailloux with lots of bumps and bruises along the way.  The stars left no doubt in the game and Chris Mitre followed suit in net closing the door to the Wildcat offense.

Head coach Dennis Emerson was pleased with the opener.

“I thought overall we had a solid start to the series and getting two points in game one on the road was huge for us. It should take away some of the pressure on the team going into game two tomorrow,” added Emerson.

The Stars were back underway Sunday afternoon, in what shaped up to be the better of the two performances for the weekend.   Chris Mitre got the start in net again and Emerson said it wasn’t an easy decision.

“We decided to go back with Chris in Game 2 and he certainly helped close the door and allow the team a great chance to win,” Emerson said.

Jack Hubbell opened up the scoring for the stars and that, and a Wildcat goal  is all there would be in regulation.  Tied and in overtime, Brandon Farhringer sent the Stars back home up four points to zero in their OMHA Semi Final match with a 2-1 OT victory.  This same Woolwich team has won back to back OMHA Finals the past two seasons and are heading to Amherstburg next weekend with their backs against the wall.

“Coming home with four points and having three home games in a row, I like the position our team put themselves in,” said Emerson.  “We have really been playing well since the Christmas break.  I really like the players we have and the way they are working together,” he added.

Emerson noted that the team saw a few players driving home between games to write university exams and is really happy with the commitment level he is seeing.

The Stars will host the Wildcats Friday night at 9:10 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.  (the latter two games only if needed). All games  will be played at the Libro Centre.

Admirals boasting abundance of local talent on this year’s team

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

When the Amherstburg Integrity Admirals hit the ice this season, they will be doing so with a lot of locally trained hockey players.

The bulk of the Admirals’ 23-player roster is made of locally developed talent with the local content also included in the team’s ownership and management.

“I’m pumped for the outlook of our team this season, probably more than I’ve been in the four years I’ve been here,” said co-owner Wes Ewer. “I’m pumped about the amount of Amherstburg talent we have in all aspects of the organization.”

Ewer pointed out that 13 of the 23 players are from Amherstburg, three coaches are from Amherstburg and three of the four support and training staff are from Amherstburg. The ownership group of the Admirals also features two local people – Ewer and Matt Fox. Fox is also an assistant coach.

Local players include Kyle Meloche, Zack Yott, Cory Burns, Austin Jennings, Ryan Holzel, Cole Welsh, Luc Warnock, Jack Hubbell, Bryce McGregor, Catalin Morin, Mike Lenson, Brock Beaudoin and Reid Stieler.

“I would challenge anyone to find me a team in the PJHL that has as many people from its town involved in all areas and be a strong team,” said Ewer. “We are very, very proud we have local talent spread out in all areas of the organization. We are going to put a lot of familiar faces on the ice.”

The Amherstburg Integrity Admirals will hit the ice for the 2017-18 PJHL Stobbs Division season with a healthy dose of local talent among their ranks. The Amherstburg executives, coaches and players include (back row, from left): From Left to right (Standing)- Wes Ewer (owner), Zack Yott (#17), Cory Burns (#9), Austin Jennings (#10), Ryan Holzel (#14), Cole Welsh (#4), Luc Warnock (#27), Jack Hubbell (#2), Bryce McGregor (#18), Rob Bondy (assistant coach), Paul Bortignon (general manager/head coach). Front row (from left): Matt Fox (owner/assistant coach), Catalin Morin (#33), Mike Lenson (#8), Brock Beaudoin (#11), Reid Stieler (#7). Not pictured: Kyle Meloche (#12), Grant Wood (room manager), Stu Bertram (assistant trainer), Bryan Hayes (prevention services), Scott Riddell (assistant trainer), B.J. Wiley (assistant trainer).

The Admirals praised the work of the Amherstburg Minor Hockey Association (AMHA) for its role in developing the local talent.

“You can’t say enough about AMHA,” said Ewer. “They make it easy for us.”

The coaches are confident about the players they are utilizing, Ewer added, and that those players can be used in all situations.

“We know what (AMHA) is doing and they are doing it right,” he said.

Ewer pointed out Glen Holden and Dennis Emerson, coaches of the Amherstburg Stars midget major and juvenile teams respectively, deserve credit for developing players in their final years of minor hockey.

“We’re going to be in a good position because of the good coaching they are doing with their teams,” he said.

Admirals head coach/GM Paul Bortignon said the level of hockey talent that is developed in Amherstburg is something the Jr. C club can’t turn away from. He said the number of Amherstburg players on the Admirals is due to their abilities rather than simply the team trying to accumulate as many local players as possible.

“I don’t think we’d take Amherstburg kids on the ice if it hindered our hopes for winning a championship,” said Bortignon.

Bortignon believed that winning a championship with so many local players and coaches could be “the first of its kind” in Jr. C.

Fox said AMHA has produced strong hockey players over the years and that trend is continuing. He said with the Admirals now in town, local players have been choosing to stay home to further their careers at the junior level.

“There are teams that are winning in this league that are doing it on the backs of Amherstburg kids,” said Fox.

Ewer added that although they are excited about the number of Amherstburg players in the lineup, they are equally excited about the other players from outside of town they have acquired as well. The Admirals open the regular season Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Libro Centre against the Petrolia Flyers.